Garden Advice: Perennial propagation
LC (May 2007)
I am a first year student at Kew and am researching for a project on perennial production in the U.K. I would be very interested to know your methods of propagation and your thoughts on buying in stock from abroad.
Bide-A-Wee response (by Mark Robson)
The principle methods of propagation we use for perennials here at Bide-a-wee Cottage Gardens, are as follows.
- Division, for those species that bulk up reasonably fast, and also where cultivars are being offered.
- Seed, often produces variable progeny but is useful for volume production, slow to establish species and of course new wild collected stock.
- Softwood cuttings, are great for quickly bulking up plants, that respond to this method, and of course are identical to the mother plant.
Additional material for very slow growing plants such as some of the purple foliage geraniums is produced for us by micro propagation. Without micro propagation, some garden worthy plants would take many years to become available.
Importation of plant material can bring a ready supply of difficult to establish plant material that has been quickly bulked up in a more conducive climate, and probably with cheaper labour. However there are downsides in that imported plant material produced with lower overheads depresses prices and reduces the margins for British growers. There is also risk of importing pests and disease, and DEFRA are wisely tightening up on plant health of material from some parts of the World.